Balance Exercises for Seniors
As we get older, our balance naturally starts to decline, but there's good news! Just like you can work your muscles to get stronger, you can work on your balance, too—and that's especially important for seniors.
Improving balance helps reduce the risk of falling, which has a positive effect on quality of life and improves your senior's ability to age in place. Of course, a fall can lead to injury, but even the fear of falling can decrease a senior's confidence during the activities of daily living. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, and preparing dinner all become less enjoyable if they don't feel sure on their feet.
When people talk about improving balance, they often think of gymnasts on a beam or yoga practitioners with their legs behind the heads. It's actually much simpler than that! Here are some user-friendly exercises your senior can do to improve balance. Why not join in? Good balance is important for everyone!
For all of these exercises, the senior can stand near the wall or a sturdy chair and use his or her hands to help balance. As they get stronger, they may be able to move some exercises away from the object. For safety, it's a good idea for you or a home caregiver to be with your senior while they do these exercises to provide assistance as needed.
Tightrope Walk (on the Floor)
Don't worry, no tightropes are involved! Instead, imagine there's one stretched out along the floor. Take small steps along that imaginary line, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toe of the other foot. Try to look forward rather than down.
Stand on One Leg
Stand tall and look straight ahead. Carefully pick one foot up off the ground and hold for 20 seconds. Switch feet. Gradually increase the time to hold the one-leg position for longer on each side, eventually doing it without help from the chair or the wall.
When that has been mastered, try lifting one leg and the opposite arm at the same time!
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Slowly rise up on the toes, then carefully lower the heels back to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Over the Shoulder Walk
SilverSneakers recommends this exercise. Turn your head to look over your right shoulder as you take a few steps forward. Then turn your head to the left and take a few more steps. Try doing it five times on each side.
High Knee March (and Other Leg Lifts)
March in place, lifting the knee as high as you can with each step. Go slowly, and stay near the wall for balance as needed. As you progress, you can change the way you lift the leg. For example, lift it out to the side: do 10 repetitions on that side before switching legs, or alternate from side to side. You could also lift it behind you, keeping in mind it will be a fairly small movement.
Better balance improves confidence and independence, but it's possible to age in place even as your senior starts to need a little extra help. Senior Helpers offers 24-hour home care for seniors in the North Shore, Merrimack Valley, Burlington, and the surrounding areas. From assisting with the basic activities of daily living to overnight senior care for Alzheimer's and dementia, we are here to help. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your senior age in place.